Do you get satisfaction from taking chances, trying new things? Or, do you dislike change, prefer the status quo?

Are you a risk taker?
Answer “yes” or “no:”
1. I often wish people would be more definite.
2. When I want something, I’ll go out on a limb for it.
3. If the possible reward is very high, I would put money into a business that could fail.
4. I like to plan my activities.
5. It’s easy for me to change routines.
6. I prefer job challenge to job security.
7. I enjoy working on problems that have ambiguous answers.
8. If I was offered a great job in a different city I would take it, even though my partner disapproves.
9. It bothers me when something unexpected interrupts my routine.
10. I trust decisions I make spontaneously.
11. In games, I usually go for broke.
12. Once my mind is made up, that’s it.
13. I would not post bail for my best friend.
14. I try to avoid situations that have uncertain outcomes.
15. I would not borrow money for a business deal even if it might be profitable.
16 I would choose a lover who delighted me, even though I thought it might not last.

Scoring and Interpretation: Give yourself 1 for each “yes” response to statements 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, and 16;  and each “no” to statements 1, 4, 9, 12, 13, 14, and 15. Add your points.

12 or higher: You enjoy taking risks. You’re also autonomous, like challenge, are confident, flexible and enjoy new experiences. However, if you scored 15 or higher, your desire to risk may sometimes be extreme. Those close to you may feel you’re reckless.

6 to 11: You may be open to some new experiences, but are overly organized or rigid in other areas.  Or you may be reluctant to risk because of family commitments. If you want to make changes, read on.

5 or lower: You dislike change, prefer a secure, well-ordered lifestyle. If you want to develop your full potential, learn to take planned risks. Try the following.

Tips for Strengthening Courage to Risk
— Make some small changes first. This helps you develop confidence and trust.  Experiment with a different hair style, try a different restaurant, take a bath instead of a shower. At work, try new ways of tackling a job.

— Believe in yourself. Affirm yourself. Replace any negative thoughts or statements with positive ones. Avoid phrases such as, “I can’t,” “I will never…”

— Turn failure into growth, obstacles or crises into growth opportunities. Consider “failure” as a temporary setback. Depersonalize setbacks. Learn from these. Ask yourself what you would do differently and then make the necessary modifications.

— Look upon something new, different, or unknown as exciting. Consider it an opportunity to stretch yourself and to grow. If you don’t try, how will you ever find out if you can do it?

— Describe the barriers that are blocking you from making a desired change. For example, personal barriers include fear of loss of a secure income, fear of failure (such as starting a new job), fear of what others will think, fear of success, and guilt that change might create family hardships.

Societal barriers include old notions of career development, outdated retirement policies, traditional gender roles, and blocks imposed by educational institutions, unions and professional associations.

Explore ways by which you can overcome or minimize one barrier.  For example, ensure an income while studying.

— Complete the Fantasy Risk Exercise. Think of an important risk you would like to take soon, something that is within your control but are afraid to initiate (e.g., taking a college credit course, taking a short trip by yourself).  What appeals to you about taking this risk? What would you gain?  What is frightening about this risk? What will you lose?  What’s the worst thing that could happen if it turned out badly? If the worst happened, what would you do? Where could you get information to pursue this risk?  From whom could you get support? What could you do to make this less risky? If you broke the risk into small steps, what would the first step be? How soon could you take it? Do this for each step.

Evaluate the outcome of the risk. Did it turn out as expected? If not, why? What have you learned? Celebrate your success whether or not it turned out as expected. Gradually, you will see yourself as a risk taker.

Remember, it is important not to generalize your capacity to risk to all situations. Each personal or professional situation is different. There will be times when it may be appropriate to risk, and other times it may be better to stay put. However, creating a life worth living and finding the courage to pursue your dreams requires some risk. It is challenging, but you can do it!